Good Friday

About three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27.46)

Of all Jesus’ words, these strike me as some of the most authentic to our human existence. Who among us has not known at least one moment of abandonment by others, being left to the fates, bereft of support and security? (If any of us have not had this experience, then I pray that such a circumstance never befalls.)

In contemplating abandonment, I think of our fellow sisters and brothers throughout the history of the world who, for whatever cause – whether conflict or contagion or natural calamity – have died alone. When I reflect on my more than forty years of pastoral ministry, the greatest fear I have heard from the lips of countless souls is dying alone.

Thus, again, Jesus’ cry of lamentation, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” ring profoundly, painfully true.

Yet, in this, I find some comfort. Jesus, crucified and dying, called on the songbook of the sacred scriptures of his people.[1] Yes, to give full-throated force to express his anguish: “Why have you forsaken me!” Yet also to proclaim his trust: “My God, my God…”

Even though I am abandoned, my God is my God!

Even though I am in anguish, my God is my God!

Even though you do not answer, my God is my God!

This means that I, even in the worst of circumstances, the direst of predicaments can call out, cry out to God. A God…the God…my God who, because of Jesus, knows all the trouble I’ve seen. Therefore, I know that I am never alone.

© 2022 PRA

Illustration: Christ on the Cross (c. 1618-1620), Peter Paul Rubens (1577-1640)

[1] My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from helping me, from the words of my groaning? (Psalm 22.1).

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